Thursday, April 18, 2013
A Dorchester County task force is looking into possible pay raises for county elected and appointed officials.
Council gave approval April 1 for human resources to consider pay raises, as well as performance and merit increases for employees, reclassification of employee positions and employee health and dental benefits.
The move comes about because council adjusted employees' pay in January, but delayed a decision on elected and appointed officials' pay, County Administrator Jason Ward said.
Sheriff L.C. Knight said he was ready and waiting to see what the county would do.
“I've been here four years and haven't got 1 percent,” he said.
County Council last gave itself a raise in 2008, when it quietly voted in a pay increase to $20,000 from $15,000.
When the information became widely known, several members said they would continue to accept only the original amount of $15,000.
By comparison, Charleston County Council members earn between $14,001 and $18,000, and Berkeley County Council members make $12,000.
The exact salary of some elected officials can be difficult to pin down, because they receive supplemental pay from the state.
And some officials get pay increases mandated by the state. Probate judges salaries', for example, are determined according to a salary schedule based on population and are adjusted annually using the cost-of-living increase determined by the state – 3 percent this year – according to Dorchester County's human resources department.
According to a budget proviso supplied by the S.C. Comptroller General's office, clerks of court, probate judges, sheriffs and coroners each also receive a $1,575 supplement from the state, and registers of deeds receive a $650 supplement.
That information differs slightly from what some of the counties in the tri-county area reported.
Berkeley County, for example, reported no supplement for its coroner and reported its probate judge received two supplements – one in the amount of $1,575 and one in the amount of $9,845.
Probate Judge Keith Kornahrens didn't return a call seeking clarification.
Also according to the budget proviso supplied by the comptroller general's office, county auditors and treasurers are to receive state supplements of $27,224.
The S.C. Treasurer's Office, however, said the supplements for those two positions are $19,976.
The additional money, said spokesman Brian DeRoy, goes directly to benefits.
The proviso says, “The amount appropriated in Part IA, Section 86, for Aid Cnty-Auditors and Aid Cnty-Treasurers, shall be equally distributed to each county auditor and county treasurer as a salary supplement in addition to any amounts presently being provided by the county for these positions.”
The amount appropriated is $1.25 million for each office – or $27,224 when divided by 46 counties. DeRoy, however, said the $19,976 figure is the correct amount of the supplement.
The auditors and treasurers don't receive the full $19,976, however, as part of that money is also deducted for benefits.
Dorchester County Auditor J.J. Messervy said his taxable income from the state supplement is $15,216.
The budget proviso stipulates the extra state pay for auditors and treasurers isn't an excuse for counties to decrease their contributions, and that auditors and treasurers should still be considered eligible for county pay raises.